“What does Winnipeg taste like?” It’s a question we’re all used to answering with quick responses including ice cream at the Bridge Drive In and hot dogs at Kelekis Restaurant.
But Barret Miller has different answers in mind. He wants us to widen our eyes at the sensation that wild licorice leaves on our tongues and chuckle a little at the mouth-puckering properties of fully ripened chokecherries. Tonight, he’s introducing us to wild edibles and foraging techniques. And he’s doing it all in the centre of the city in a little patch of paradise we like to call Assiniboine Forest.
Miller of Channel Canyon Consulting teamed up with pal A.P. Benton of Savour Winnipeg—a blog dedicated to local food—to offer the Fantastic Forest Forage experience. Here’s just a sampling of what you can expect to find on your stroll.
Look for dark purple berries—smaller than blueberries—that grow from white flowers, on bushes or trees up to five metres tall. A round leaf with small serrations and small crowns on the berries will let you know you’ve located these prime, juicy treats. Saskatoon berries were traditionally used to flavour pemmican. Today, they’re fantastic fresh or in jam, syrup, muffins, bannock or my favourite—pie! (photo by Shel Zolkewich)
A member of the same botanical family as ginseng, sarsaparilla is used in cold remedies and as a tonic. Tea made from dried roots has a distinctly spicy, earthy flavour. Look for a stem with a five-lobed leaf. Interestingly, this plant is the key ingredient in root beer. Most root beer recipes combine sarsaparilla, licorice and wintergreen. (photo by Shel Zolkewich)
Members of the mint family have narrow leaves that are directly opposite from one another and square stems. The most diagnostic characteristic of mint is its smell—minty! Add fresh or dried leaves to hot water for a refreshing tea. Mint is a great addition to your baking recipes. And, it’s wonderful in icing. Traditionally, mint helps settle nausea and ease cold symptoms. (photo by Michael Becker)